France star Karim Benzema, who injured himself on the eve of the World Cup, could play in Sunday’s final. Here’s why:
As the World Cup final draws closer, the buzz around Qatar has been whether Argentina’s Lionel Messi can finally win this thing or if Kylian Mbappe can add a second title to the one he captured four years ago.
The other storyline that emerged Thursday was the one around Karim Benzema and whether he will play for Lea Bleus in Sunday’s big game.
Can Benzema play in the final?
The French striker, you will recall, injured himself ahead of the tournament as the team trained in Qatar. France manager Didier Deschamps took him off the team, but never replaced him.
World Cup: Can Karim Benzema play against Argentina?
Instead, France played at the World Cup with a 25-man roster, one player short. The question isn’t whether Benzema can play, but will he?
Now that France have reached the final, the Real Madrid star and recent Ballon d’Or winner could be called up for the game. After all, he is eligible. He would also collect a winner’s medal (whether he plays or not) for being on the official roster.
Benzema looks like he’s itching to play. His social media accounts, featuring him on a stationary bike, seem to signal that he’s fit and wants to get minutes.
The lingering question is whether or not France need him. Benzema’s replacement, Olivier Giroud, has had a great tournament. He’s paired well up front with Mbappe and the duo have been assisted by the passing prowess of Antoine Griezmann.
Giroud, it should be noted, has scored four goals in five games, including the winning strike against England in the quarterfinals. In doing so, Giroud also surpassed the legendary Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading scorer.
Inserting Benzema at the last minute could hurt chemistry, especially if it means benching Giroud in favor of a player who has not played a single minute at this World Cup.
Some may say this is a great problem to have. For France, however, it could be a major distraction just 72 hours before the biggest game of the soccer calendar.
Dechamps is likely to go with the formation that got France this far for a second straight World Cup. In the meantime, Benzema will make the trip back to Doha in time for the final.
Should France win and Benzema not play, this talking point won’t be an issue. Should France lose to the Albiceleste with a healthy Benzema watching from the sidelines, then expect plenty of controversy about what could have been.
Is this a good problem for France to have? I think not.